Electric Car Sharing Program Takes Root in the Twin Cities
In Minnesota, electric cars account for less than 1 percent of annual car sales. But a new car sharing program hopes to boost that number by encouraging more Minnesotans to try driving an electric vehicle.
Formally announced last week, Evie Carshare offers a fleet of electric cars that users can pick up throughout St. Paul and Minneapolis. The program is exclusive to the Twin Cities.
Evie operates differently than other carsharing services. Hourcar, for example, is hub-based, which means its vehicles need to be brought back to where they were picked up. Evie, on the other hand, is what’s known as a “free-flowing service:” Rented Evie cars only need to park within a designated neighborhood radius, and can be parked in any legal spot or at an Evie charging station. The model is designed to give the driver a little more freedom to travel.
But that doesn’t mean just anyone can grab a car and go. All customers are subject to a background check and a $25 dollar fee to cover the costs of a license review. This is to check for DUIs or other driving penalties. The review process takes a day or two, according to Evie. Users can rent car through a mobile app or a Metro Transit card. Evie charges by the minute, so a trip can be as short as one minute or as long as three days.
“The whole program was designed around increasing electric vehicle access and equity,” said James Vierling, spokesman for Hourcar, which is partnering with the Twin Cities and Xcel Energy to launch Evie. “You’ll see a lot of the Evie charging spots in low-income neighborhoods, communities of color, and other places where electric vehicle infrastructure may lag.”
Evie plans to roll out 70 electric charging stations, each with four parking spots, throughout the Twin Cities. Non-Evie electric car owners can also use the charging spots for a fee. “People can go ahead and charge up their electric car or buy one and not have to look at the cost of installing a charger into their rental unit or personal garage,” Vierling said. The idea isn’t to limit users but provide an incentive to make the change to electric vehicles.
Evie will have a fleet of 171 electric vehicles to start.